View RSS Feed

Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Outrage Continued and then Interrupted by Cops!

Rate this Entry
I’ve spent most of the day bussing tables in between headache-inducing bouts of writing about Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes.


During the few spare moments this has left free in my schedule, I’ve posted the odd thought, on Facebook, concerning the Penn State University pedophilia scandal ("As a Michigan graduate, I'm proud to boast: we are… NOT Penn State!”), then responding to the peevishness such reasonable comments inevitably provoke in the sentimental and self-deluded.


I’m not sure why, but for whatever reason, my capacity for outrage, at this point, is nearly spent. And yet I shall force myself to motor onwards like a rusted jalopy fueled by french fry grease and bile, a metaphor that is, frankly, not all that far from the mark.


So where were we?



Oh, yes, my 5th grade classroom, under Mr. Glarow’s desk, staring at clumps of my blond hair between his clenched simian fingers.



Let’s now segue, shall we, to last April, 2011…when
our annual Amish mudhole masters swimming championships was, as usual, being held at Clarion University, a Division III swimming school, whose pool’s official measurement with a steel tape was on file with the college’s coach, easily satisfying the mandate USMS requires for official competitions.


Moreover, two fully credentialed officials, dressed in neat white linen swim official/insane asylum guard-quality uniforms, were parading up and down the pool deck, their raptor eyes unblinking in search of even the tiniest of infractions. There was, in addition, a certified starter similarly attired and several USMS-qualified meet observers in attendance.


The first event of the day was the 1000 yard freestyle. Despite the recent outlawing of full body suits, with my freshly depilated body crammed into a jammer, I somehow flukishly managed to swim this event the fastest I have done in five years.


Before continuing, indulge a quick digression here. I am no swimming ubermensch, no Leslie “the Fortress” Livingston, no Chris “the Greek Olympian” Stevenson, no Dr. Kurt “Dr. Kirk Duxon, D.O.” Dixon, MD. I am but one of those multitudinous fellows whose swimming career was, throughout youth, considerably below mediocrity.



It is only because of obsessive-compulsive tendencies that persist in the face of heavy dose SNRI treatment that this status has changed even slightly with the passing of time. I have, in short, remained wedded to the sport of swimming throughout most of my life and have thusly managed to deteriorate at a slightly slower rate than many of my former, infinitely superior peers.



This is why I've been able to do in my dotage what was an impossible dream for me in my youth: crack the top 10 on the odd occasion. I have, in short, outlasted some, though by no means all, of my fellow bastards.


In yards, clearly the most difficult course to make the top 10, the best placements I have to date managed has been 6th place—invariably accomplished during the first or second year of “aging up.” When I finished last spring's mudhole 1000, and I looked up and saw my time, 11:18.15, it occurred to me that just possibly I would finally exceed this personal TT best.



Here are the results from the Clarion University state-of-the-art timing system:


Swim Details
Swimmer:
Sex/Age:
M58


Club:
()


Meet:
Event:
1000 SCY Free


Heat/Lane:
Heat 1, Lane 4


Seed Time:
11:44.00


Final Time:
11:18.15


Splits
Leg
Cumulative
Subtractive
1
31.47
31.47
1
1:05.70
34.23
2
1:40.01
34.31
2
2:14.40
34.39
3
2:48.46
34.06
3
3:23.54
35.08
4
3:57.83
34.29
4
4:32.45
34.62
5
5:06.63
34.18
5
5:40.90
34.27
6
6:15.04
34.14
6
6:49.55
34.51
7
7:23.27
33.72
7
7:57.63
34.36
8
8:32.07
34.44
8
9:05.82
33.75
9
9:39.00
34.18
9
10:13.25
33.25
10
10:47.27
34.02
10
11:18.15
30.88

I was confident this swim would net me a top 10, and cautiously optimistic I might even place higher—for the first time in my life—higher than 6th. I was, it turns out, half right.



Here are the final listings for the 1000 SCY free from last spring:


1000 Freestyle SCY Men 55-59 (2011)
#
Name
Age
Club
LMSC
Time
1
Michael T Mann
56
CMS
Colorado
2
Tim P Buckley
55
FMT
Southern Pacific
3
Joel Kriger
57
SYSM
Florida
11:11.47
4
Paul G Karas
55
MICH
Michigan
5
Larry Wood
57
TXLA
South Texas
11:26.20
6
Michael J Blatt
55
VCM
Southern Pacific
7
Mike J Ryder
56
SNM
Pacific
8
Jim Montgomery
56
DAMM
North Texas
9
Loren Druz
55
WCM
Pacific
11:43.02
10
Peter M Guadagni
56
WCM
Pacific
11:44.58

The observant reader will quickly notice two things.



First, my time of 11:18.15 would have placed me fourth in my age group, the best showing – – to my knowledge – – that anybody in my genetic line has ever finished in a national sporting inventory of this caliber.



Second, there is, of course, no Jim Thornton listed on this roster.


At the risk of beating off a dead horse, which, frankly, I don’t think anyone wants to see, let me just stipulate that whatever paperwork was necessary to get this entirely run-by-the-book and completely kosher USMS-sanctionable (though not sanctioned) swimming meet to actually count--well, somehow, let us just say, the balls were dropped.



Actually, I am being overly generous here. The balls were never so much as picked up in the first place, rendering the possibility of dropping them moot.



The Clarion meet is by far the largest Masters meet within several hundred miles of Pittsburgh, and whoever is supposed to represent our USMS interests in this backwater region, whoever it is that takes our membership dues and puts these to whatever use membership dues are put, for reasons perhaps perfectly legitimate but perhaps, too, perfectly illegitimate—said persons, whoever they may be, did not pick up the ball and/or drop the ball. There was no ball. The meet didn’t count.



Live and learn, I eventually concluded.



Never again would I rely on my immediate vicinity, or any meet within Western Pennsylvania, for that matter, to count for TT. I would not make that boneheaded mistake again!



Refuse to pick up the ball and drop it once, shame on you! Refuse to pick up the ball and drop it twice, shame on me.

Next summer, I was determined to swim at least one, absolutely 100 percent, no question about it, guaranteed to be certified USMS certified LCM swimming meet….

EMERGENCY INTERRUPTION!!!!


Sorry, I must take a break from this vlog.



The local police just called to tell us that they arrested two grifters from Erie who apparently burglarized the Hotel of the Unfortunates, a dilapidated property we own and use to store heirlooms.

I will resume tomorrow after I see how much we have lost.



It is probably fitting that I don't overload my dear readers with too much outrage at one time anyhow. The last thing I want is for my misfortunes to haunt your dreams.

Submit "Outrage Continued and then Interrupted by Cops!" to Digg Submit "Outrage Continued and then Interrupted by Cops!" to del.icio.us Submit "Outrage Continued and then Interrupted by Cops!" to StumbleUpon Submit "Outrage Continued and then Interrupted by Cops!" to Google

Updated November 10th, 2011 at 11:24 PM by jim thornton

Categories
Uncategorized

Comments

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
  1. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    I suppose the moral is to look at the meet info and make sure that the meet has a Sanction number (or Recognition number). I can't remember a time we've had a "masters" meet around here that wasn't one or the other, but I seem to remember hearing that the YMCA swimming scene is pretty big in your neck of the woods.

    As far as why it didn't happen, you should ask Mermaid, your LMSC chair. It may be on the LMSC side or it may be that the meet director simply never submitted for a sanction. Or maybe sanction wasn't granted for some reason.
  2. jaadams1's Avatar
    Though I've heard the story before, this would completely more than tick me iff if the same thing happened to me in my LMSC. You should grab your torches and pitchforks and go get 'em!!
  3. jim thornton's Avatar
    Actually, guys, I am pretty much reconciled to the Clarion meet not counting. I tried to get it to count, it did for a few days, then it went away.

    What really miffed me, however, was the LCM meet from last summer. The sage will continue soon.

    In the meantime, I invite anybody who has any TT-related bureaucratic grievance to post their stories here! Perhaps if enough outrages are assembled in one place, the powers that be will loosen up and do what they claim as their top priority: helping swimmers!
  4. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    Since it is difficult for me to keep my cool in the face of suggestions that USMS volunteers care little for swimmers, I'll be bowing out of this "Occupy Vlog" moment and stop following this thread. But I do encourage you to discuss the situation with your LMSC officers, if you haven't already. Best of luck.
  5. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson
    Since it is difficult for me to keep my cool in the face of suggestions that USMS volunteers care little for swimmers, I'll be bowing out of this "Occupy Vlog" moment and stop following this thread. But I do encourage you to discuss the situation with your LMSC officers, if you haven't already. Best of luck.
    Please don't bow out, Mr. S! You are the voice of progressive sanity here! I was upset at one meet not counting, and I concede I believed at the time animus against me personally may have had something to do with it, but time is a river, and a violent stream and as soon as we see a thing it is carried away, and another thing takes its place, and that too will be carried away.

    I get this! I let go! But I think thongs could be designed a little better...
  6. Celestial's Avatar
    While I fully understand the imperative to being recognized by your peers, especially since your have spent several years in unglorified anonymity, perhaps it is a little bit gratifying to at least know for yourself that you are one of the Top Dogs? Despite what the books say? Furiously frustrating, I'm sure. However, to avoid another terrible no good very bad day, do as Senor Stevenson suggests, and double check that the meet is USMS sanctioned before swimming so quickly next time!! It's hard to imagine this happening to you twice in one year, sincere condolences!
  7. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial
    While I fully understand the imperative to being recognized by your peers, especially since your have spent several years in unglorified anonymity, perhaps it is a little bit gratifying to at least know for yourself that you are one of the Top Dogs? Despite what the books say? Furiously frustrating, I'm sure. However, to avoid another terrible no good very bad day, do as Senor Stevenson suggests, and double check that the meet is USMS sanctioned before swimming so quickly next time!! It's hard to imagine this happening to you twice in one year, sincere condolences!
    Ah, but as you shall soon enough see, in the forthcoming entry (Tentative title: Will Outrages Never Cease?), I did exactly what Sr. Stevenson suggests!

    To no avail....

    It happened not once, not twice, but thrice!

    Stay tuned.

    Your humble proxy victim for bureaucratic injustice, Jim "I get screwed so maybe you won't have to!" Thornton, aging coot
  8. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    No justic no peace! Occupy Sewickley is wriggling its collective fingers upwards, as are their compatriots in Ocean City! I bet Goldman had something to do with this outrage, or perhaps it was Jim's courage to criticize Penn State.
  9. Bobinator's Avatar
    I don't understand why a meet isn't automatically sanctioned if the pool is measured correctly at the standard distance, especially when you can't really get Deeked in freestyle.
    All I can say is that Jimby will always be in my Top Ten lIst for everything!!
  10. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by RustyScupperton
    No justic no peace! Occupy Sewickley is wriggling its collective fingers upwards, as are their compatriots in Ocean City! I bet Goldman had something to do with this outrage, or perhaps it was Jim's courage to criticize Penn State.
    Thanks, Mr. Scupperton. Let me post the link to your site in case any of our swimmers would like to add fox hunting and communism to their leisure activities. I, for one, consider both of these excellent cross training for swimmers!

  11. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator
    I don't understand why a meet isn't automatically sanctioned if the pool is measured correctly at the standard distance, especially when you can't really get Deeked in freestyle.
    I must say that I agree, assuming there are a few other safeguards to prevent blatant (or even subtle) cheating. For instance, they can't let you wear illegal suits, use floaties or fins, etc. And there should be officials there to make sure the rules are followed and no false starts, etc.

    But some of the rules, in my opinion, are purely designed to give USMS control. Why, for instance, would an "Open 200" not count, especially after you have talked to the meet director, he has given you the okay to swim your 200 and 400 freestyles in the Open events of these distances, and assured you they will, indeed, count for TT consideration? More on this soon.
  12. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    But some of the rules, in my opinion, are purely designed to give USMS control. Why, for instance, would an "Open 200" not count, especially after you have talked to the meet director, he has given you the okay to swim your 200 and 400 freestyles in the Open events of these distances, and assured you they will, indeed, count for TT consideration? More on this soon.
    According to rules queen Kathy Casey, an "open 200" doesn't count because it is not a legitimate event as listed in the rule book. A S&T judge needs to know what rules govern your swim. For example, if you do "fly" in a 200 free, you are allowed to do 1-handed turns, flip turns, 1-stroke fly, or whatever. That's why it counts as a 200 free time, not a 200 fly time.

    So what criteria to judge a "200 open?" And even if you agree to some criteria, how is a TT Recorder (who maybe wasn't at the meet) supposed to know that?

    There are plenty of ways to get around this rule legally. You just set up 200 of each stroke as separate events, with their own event numbers, and swimmers enter a specific event. You are allowed to combine events to save time, so they can swim in the same heat. And the judges know what rules to use to judge you.

    The meet director/referee is supposed to know (or verify) this and other rules and rule interpretations governing competition. If s/he doesn't, s/he isn't doing a good job.

    "Sanction" is not about a single event, like a 1000 free, but about how you agree to run the meet: by USMS rules, with adequate number of officials and timers, and so on. In order for a time to be considered for TT, it needs to be at a sanctioned or recognized meet. If you didn't have this requirement, then I could say "my coach just hand-timed me in practice in the 400 iM; this was my time, pls submit for top ten."

    So I guess it is about "control" in the sense that USMS wants to be sure that everyone competes under the same rules. This is bad? I am not sure exactly what Jim and others are suggesting here, that we accept all times from any meet? What reputable organization does that? None that I know about.

    One of the biggest distinctions between a "sanctioned" and "recognized" meet is that the former requires that all participants be USMS members (for insurance/liability purposes), while the latter does not. Some meet hosts do not want their meet sanctioned for this reason -- eg if they want USAT or YMCA members to participate -- so they do not apply for sanction. If they want to induce USMS members to come by assuring them their times will count for TT purposes, then they apply for recognition. In that case, they agree to follow USMS rules and there must be an observer present to verify this.

    By the way, a sanctioned meet does NOT have to be in a measured pool; or it can be in a pool that has been certified as "too short." In that case the times are not submitted for TT (but the meet is still "sanctioned").

    I certainly don't necessarily agree with all USMS rules and policies; for example, I think we go overboard with measurement requirements. (Did you know that our measurement requirements for TT submission are stricter than FINA's requirements for world records?) But these rules were approved by a majority at the House of Delegates. Democracy in action, the people have spoken.

    Rules about sanction, recognition, top ten eligibility and all that have been in place for quite some time. Experienced LMSC officers and meet hosts should know about them. Inexperienced people need to be taught by experienced ones. Jim has been sparing in details, for dramatic effect I guess, so I have no idea what happened in his case. But it sounds like a failure at the local level (LMSC or meet host).

    By the way, USMS is certainly not alone in being a stickler for rules. At USA-S meets they sometimes make people step down off the blocks if they don't know the whistles. For example, if they step up on the block (or into the water for backstroke) on the first whistle instead of the second series, the starter can make them climb down (or get out) before starting all over. I've also seen 10-year-olds DQ'd for being slightly late in getting up on the blocks. This is supposed to save time? And meet announcers here are FORBIDDEN from mentioning the event number when they announce heat numbers, except for the very first one. Supposedly this makes the swimmers pay closer attention. Stupid policy (and I can go on...why do officials manning the computers need to wear the stupid uniform, for example?).
    Updated November 13th, 2011 at 03:26 PM by Chris Stevenson
  13. jim thornton's Avatar
    Chris, you may be the most reasonable person I have ever met.

    I have one more blog to write on this topic, and I hope you will comment thereupon.

    It has been suggested that social progress and positive change requires a good cop bad cop approach. For Martin Luther king to succeed, he needed a Stokely Carmichael.

    Thanks, Martin!

    Stokely
  14. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Chris, you may be the most reasonable person I have ever met.
    Maybe a little bit of an over-statement but I appreciate the sentiment.
  15. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson
    Maybe a little bit of an over-statement but I appreciate the sentiment.
    Even your reaction to compliments is reasonable.
  16. kuztoo's Avatar
    I realize I'm not a very smart man, so can you tell me are you looking to blame someone for not sanctioning this meet? If so why don't you have the courage (as Rusty believes you have for criticizing Penn State) to name the person who dropped the ball.? Maybe it's easier to throw bombs than to confront others.
  17. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kuztoo
    I realize I'm not a very smart man, so can you tell me are you looking to blame someone for not sanctioning this meet? If so why don't you have the courage (as Rusty believes you have for criticizing Penn State) to name the person who dropped the ball.? Maybe it's easier to throw bombs than to confront others.
    John, I actually did that fairly vociferously last spring. However, and I apologize for dragging this out, I am pretty much over the spring business. I am semi-reeling still from the just completed LCM business, where I did everything in my powers to ensure that I was complying, and it still turned out to not be enough.

    I will write that one up very soon.

    And I am not blaming any individuals here, but rather the complex rules that seem to imply that people are cheaters till proven innocent, rather than the other way around.
  18. kuztoo's Avatar
    James.. why do you care? Not one person who reads this vlog doesn't know that you are an outstanding swimmer,You will never be remembered for placing in the top 10 of the 1000yd free style in 2011 ( however your success that day is due to your charming counter), you'll be remembered for being one of the best swimmers ever! Although In my mind , I will remember you as the fifth grade student who put an "eshhh" on his math quiz, instead of a 5 !
  19. Chris Stevenson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kuztoo
    James.. why do you care? Not one person who reads this vlog doesn't know that you are an outstanding swimmer
    I disagree, I think it is perfectly okay to care. Any kudos, no matter how meaningless in the larger scheme of things, that get people off their butts and into the water is a worthwhile thing in my book.

    It's fine to admit you care about top ten!

    But I'm the type of person that likes to fix problems if possible, and right now the problem is underspecified. I don't know the back-story of any of this, and the miserly doling out of information is a little frustrating. More, it tends to provoke a general "outrage" with USMS which may not be all that constructive (IMO).
  20. knelson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson
    I disagree, I think it is perfectly okay to care. Any kudos, no matter how meaningless in the larger scheme of things, that get people off their butts and into the water is a worthwhile thing in my book.
    I think a lot of us care and when you have reason to believe a meet "won't count" then it's pretty likely many of us won't attend those meets. I have a feeling if USMS decided to do away with the Top Ten listing there would be a noticeable drop in meet attendance. Top Ten encourages many swimmers to attend more meets and to swim more events at the meets they attend.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast